Uh Oh, Jo’s Angry

I just made the terrible mistake of reading an inflammatory, anti-veterinarian, anti-vaccination article over at the respected scientific institution known as “Dogs Naturally magazine”.  It has the classy title “Five Things Your Vet Says That Aren’t True” – clearly an attempt at clickbaiting (well done you guys, mission accomplished).  At first I thought, meh, whatever.  These sort of people can (and will!) believe what they want.  They will spout whatever non-evidence-based, anecdotal, nonsensical crap they want all over the internet like an explosive case of Parvovirus diarrhoea.  They will raise their voices and use big words and do their best to induce outrage and win people to their cause.

The problem is, despite reading their article several times, silly old me just can’t work out what that cause even is!

I think what they’re trying to say is ‘vets are bad, m’kay?’

vaccinate dogs vaccination

Why should I care?

Well I care because that article has had over 5000 shares at this point.  That’s over 5000 pet owners as well as their friends, who are reading it and maybe even believing some of it.  First and foremost as a veterinarian, I am an advocate for animal health, and while most vets will understandably maintain a dignified silence, I feel as though I need to speak up and set the record straight.

While “Five Things Your Vet Says That Aren’t True” is apparently supposed to be about over-vaccination of pets, it really just appears to be a self-righteous and poorly written exercise in vet bashing.  There is the occasional pearl of wisdom such as “it only takes ONE vaccine to protect a puppy for life – ONE AND DONE.” Thanks for that one guys, now my left eye won’t stop twitching. I think I may have just overdosed on stupid.

According to them, “immunity is taught by the vaccine manufacturer” to us vets, which is why we are mindlessly inserting needles full of dangerous vaccines into your pets.  They do their utmost to breed distrust in the veterinary industry as a whole, saying that those setting the guidelines for veterinarians, such as the AVMA, can’t be trusted because they “have a financial interest in how often you vaccinate your dog.”

Really, guys? That’s the best you can do?

And don’t forget the most obvious point.  Vets see big fat dollar signs when we think about needlessly vaccinating all those innocent pets.  We have special secret meetups where we sit around like fat cats and laugh at the idiot, chump pet owners who put their trust in evil bastards like us.

fat cat money man

Image: Deposit Photos

Calling All Vets – We Could Be Rich!

I mean, we are SO STUPID! We don’t even realise that if we just agree with these guys and let all the puppies get Parvovirus, (or anything else we protect against with vaccines – pick your poison) we’ll be able to live lavish lifestyles.  On our breaks at work we could eat caviar and sip french champagne while swimming in our giant piles of cash.  Our hospital wards will be full of dogs suffering horribly, that will likely die despite our best efforts to save them, but shit, we’ll make a ton of money. Dogs Naturally is doing us a massive favour!

Dog high five

Image: Deposit photos

 High five, you guys!

The Reality

In reality, what happens when we encounter an unvaccinated dog with Parvovirus is somewhat less glamorous.  Entering our consult room is a miserable, collapsed puppy in shock with bloody vomit, bloody diarrhoea, and in extreme pain, because essentially it’s intestines are sloughing off.  We leap into action using all that veterinary medicine you scorn and fear to help the puppy fight for its life.  We watch that dog 24 hours a day, treat it with the best supportive treatment options available (there is no specific treatment for this virus), and most likely see it die in a pool of it’s own blood, vomit and diarrhoea anyway – from a preventable disease.

We tenderly put the frail, lifeless baby into a body bag.  We then get in our car and go home that night where we cry.  Over time, some of us get depressed, and too many choose to end their own lives due to the overwhelming stress and ongoing heartbreak that can go hand in hand with being a veterinary professional.

depression compassion fatigue

I am not saying you should feel sorry for us.  I’m saying we do our god damned best every single day and maybe you should be trying to work with us to ensure the happiness and health of every dog, instead of writing articles that not only demean and bully veterinarians, but which leave pet owners feeling like they don’t know who they can trust.

Wait, Is This So-Called ‘Dr Jo’ Even Qualified To Discuss Vaccines?

You know what, Dogs Naturally magazine staff member?  You probably know more than I do about all of this.  I mean, heck, I only have have a science degree in pharmacology and immunology, and a veterinary science degree with honours.  And nearly a decade treating dogs day in and day out.  You totally trump that, unnamed author, because someone taught you how to type and you figured out how to do a Google search.  And don’t worry about remaining anonymous, I wouldn’t put my name to that article either.

Quotes From The Article – Some Amusing, Others Downright Dangerous

“Dogs can only get parvovirus once”

Most dogs infected with parvovirus will only get it once (not 100%).  Many of these dogs only get it once because their owners cannot afford the several days of intensive care to pull them through.  Dead dogs can’t catch parvo.

“Vaccines stimulate circulating antibodies, called humeral immunity (sic), and they bypass the memory cells.  This creates an artificial immunity called humoral bias and this essentially turns the immune system inside out.”

Okay guys, I thought maybe you had me on this one.  I was skeptical, but “humoral bias” and “artificial immunity” sound like scary stuff.  Maybe I wasn’t as up to date on the science as I thought?… So I scoured the literature, animal and human.  I went through my textbooks with a fine toothed comb.

Uh oh, Dogs Naturally – I came up empty handed!  In my research I was unable to find one single reputable source for your claims regarding the inside-outness of a vaccine-abused immune system. Here’s an example of what comes up in a search for such things……..  That’s right. Nothing whatsoever to support your stance.

The truth is, both humoral and cell-mediated immunity are important.  Both have a role in immunity against parvovirus, distemper, and canine adenovirus (infectious canine hepatitis).  These are the three viruses covered by our core vaccine in Australia (we don’t have rabies).  The modified-live vaccines we use induce both humoral immunity AND a cell-mediated immune response.³

It is actually the virus-neutralising antibodies that are most important. This means there is a good correlation between antibody levels and protection against disease, and is why antibody titers can be a useful indicator of level of protection.

“choosing to vaccinate a puppy at 6 weeks means exposing him to the most disease ridden location he could possibly be in – the vet clinic – while creating immune suppression at the same time. Your puppy is much more likely to get the disease he is being vaccinating for, and all in exchange for a 30% chance the vaccine will work.”

This is the part that really scared me the most.  Please, show me where you found this data.   You know, the studies indicating puppies are being infected while they’re in the vet clinic by the very diseases we’re vaccinating for.

I’d love to see it!

Oh right, it doesn’t exist because you made it up.

And now there will be people who, based on your advice, avoid taking their puppies for important health checks.  Both of my children were born in a hospital.  SHIT! I’m lucky they weren’t killed in that filthy, disease-ridden place.  Next time I’ll definitely stay home. Thanks Dogs Naturally!!

Creature Clinic Veterinary Hospital

 

“The reason the vaccine is unlikely to work at that young age is because the puppy is protected against disease with maternal antibodies – immunity passed down from his mother.  This protection wanes over time, but is still pretty strong at 6 weeks.”

A recent study4 showed that vaccination aids in the prevention of disease caused by CPV-2c (parvovirus) when administered to puppies as young as 6 weeks of age with maternal CPV antibodies.  We start vaccinations early because we want the window of susceptibility to be as small as possible.  This is the danger time between when maternally-derived antibodies can no longer protect the puppy and when the puppy can make its own antibodies due to vaccination.

Also this statement assumes the mother was up to date on her vaccines.  If her owner followed your “ONE AND DONE” protocol, or didn’t vaccinate her at all, guess what, probably no maternal antibodies for her puppies.

“you can’t be partially protected: immunity is like being a virgin, you either are or you aren’t.  Either the immune system has filed that information away or it hasn’t:  there is no grey area, you are either immune or you are not.”

There are entire textbooks written about immunology because it’s a pretty complex topic.  Basic common sense tells us that things are not going to be this black and white.  In some situations it is possible for partial immunity to result in decreased duration and/or severity of disease.

“Not only do core vaccines last for the life of the animal, vets have known about this for about forty years!  We won’t even go into why annual vaccination is a very, very bad choice – because vaccinating every three years or every five years is also a bad choice based on unsound science.”

By all means, please point me in the direction of the peer reviewed study you read proving this ‘fact’. Oh wait, the study you refer to again and again and again ad nauseam (Schultz, 1999) says immunity to core vaccines is three years for rabies and seven years for others.

I guess 3-7 years probably is “the life of the animal” if people follow your recommendations. Not only are your references cherry picked, but they also contradict your claims anyway.

labradorDerp

A Quick Note On Something Called Anecdotal Evidence

It’s not science.  It represents what happened to one person, at one point in time, and cannot be used to make generalizations.  The comments section of the article is rife with it.  Just because someone’s aunt’s neighbour’s daughter-in-law says her dog hasn’t had a vaccination in 15 years and is still going strong, it doesn’t mean vaccinations aren’t necessary.  It means she was lucky, and that her animal was protected by herd immunity.  Nothing more.  It’s like someone saying they’ve been drinking and driving for years and never had an accident. Have they been at greater risk of an accident? Of course they have! And maybe the next time they pull out of their driveway will be the last.

This also applies to all the people who claim their dog has some sort of heinous disease caused by vaccination.  Does their dog eat food?  Is it on any sort of worm or flea prevention?  Do they give it treats?  Do they know the content of their dog’s genome?  There are myriads of variables, and there is NO WAY they can say with certainty that it has anything to do with vaccination.

Anecdotal evidence is easy, I can do it too!  That gorgeous dog in the top photo is my own 12 year old Border Collie, Anika.  She is fighting fit and her blood tests last month were perfection.  I vaccinate her triannually for parvo, distemper and hepatitis, and annually for canine cough.

Three Little Facts About Parvo That Make Appropriate Vaccination Crucial

FACT: Dogs of all ages are susceptible if they do not have sufficient immunity.

FACT: Dogs 6 weeks to 6 months of age are most susceptible to infection because maternal antibody interferes with active immune responses to vaccines.¹

FACT: More than 90% of dogs infected with Parvovirus will die without treatment.²

The Bottom Line On Dog Vaccination

I recommend referring to the guidelines set out by WSAVA (The World small animal veterinary association), which are based on current science about vaccination of our pets.  Of course science and medicine are always evolving and progressing, but at this point in time, the best recommendations we can offer for dogs is to complete a puppy course of vaccinations, boost one year subsequently, then once every three years thereafter (core vaccines).  The situation is different for non-core vaccines.  The necessity of these depends on where you live and the risk to your individual pet.

I would strongly recommend against following the recommendations of those with no qualifications whatsoever but a clear agenda to vilify veterinarians.

I’d love to hear your opinions lovely readers, but please know that anything deemed nasty or offensive will not be published. Peace out.

syringe bottle dog

 

¹Houston DM, Ribble CS, Head LL: Risk factors associated with parvovirus enteritis in dogs: 283 cases (1982-1991). J Am Vet Med Assoc. 208:542546 1996
²Prittie J: Canine parvoviral enteritis: a review of diagnosis, management, and prevention. J Vet Emerg Crit Care. 14:167176 2004
³Ettinger S, Feldman C: Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 7th Edition. p 854 2010
4Glover S, Anderson C, Piontkowski M, Ng T: Canine Parvovirus CPV) type 2b vaccine protects puppies with maternal antibodies to CPV when challenged with virulent CPV-2c virus. Int J Appl Res Vet Med 10(3):217-224 2012
Joanna Paul
Dr. Joanna Paul BVSc (hons) BSc Jo is a practicing small animal veterinarian based in Melbourne, Australia. Working in partnership with loving pet owners to ensure their fur-kids remain happy, healthy family members life-long is what brings her joy. Well, that and taking naps. Jo strongly believes that helping to maintain the wonderful bond between a pet and their human is reason enough for a happy dance.
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Showing 41 comments
  • Johnny McCarron

    I love that you talked about how important vaccinations are. I think that this anti-vaccination movement is ridiculous. People are just too paranoid these days, and it causes issues with the pet. Do you have any other tips about finding someone good to administer the vaccinations to your pet?

    • Connie

      I REALLY INNJOYED YOUR INFORMATION ON HOW TO AN WHAT NOT TO DO WITH SHOTS IN DOGS. I LIVE IN WEST VIRGINIA AN U HAVE TO DOGS PIT TETRA SHE’S 9 ALMOST 10 THE MALE IS 8 AN HE’S PIT TETRA WITH BLACK LAB. MY DOGS R MY LIFE THEY HAVE GOT ME THRU ALOT, MAY I ASK YOU THEY HAVENT HAD THERE SHOTS IN FEW YES BUT OUT HERE THEY GIVE WHAT THEY CALL AN 8 IN ONE SHOT. SOPOST TO HAVE IT ALL EXCEPT RABBIES CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT SHOTS SHOULD THEY NEED NOW AN ALSO THE MALE IS HAVING ARTHISITS IN HIS HIPS WHAT CAN I GIVE HIM AN HOW MUCH OF IT. THANK YOU AN IF U COULD EMAIL ME I’D APPRECIATE IT VERY MUCH SO I DON’T HAVE THE MONEY TO TAKE THEM TO GET AN THEY

  • Jay Jorgenson

    I know that there is a lot of opinion out there and that is why I really appreciated this article. I feel like Veterinarians are the best people to consult when it comes to deciding whether or not dogs need vaccinations. This article is great and I hope that it gets 5000+ shares!

  • Willem

    a very one-sided article. Our dog got only 2 x C3 shots – one with 7 weeks and one with 24 weeks and has excellent immunity against parvo, hepatitis and distemper.

    How do I know?… just by doing a VacciCheck that is thankfully offered by more and more responsible vets even here in Australia.

    The recognised tests costs approx. AU$ 85, tests all 3 core immunities at once, and all what’s needed is 1 blood sample. So why would anyone vaccinate his / her dog(s) again and again and risk potential negative side effects when there is a simple and recognised test out there that allows easy verification of the required immunity?

    Wrt article: IMO it is the duty of care of any vet to inform dog owners of the availability of titre testing, and it makes me wonder why some vets just don’t offer it respectively are reluctant regarding informing their clients about this option?

    • Joanna Paul

      Hi Willem,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.
      I think your approach to caring for your dog is fantastic, and I’m in no way against titre testing, so I apologise if the article gave that impression. The point is that we can’t assume a puppy who has had just one vaccine at 7 weeks of age is fully covered against deadly diseases. There is dangerous advice out there online from people with no education who like to demonise vets and happen to be making $$$ from peddling their own “natural” alternatives.
      We do need more people like yourself who take an active interest in their pets’ health and are willing to ask questions.

  • Bennett Fischer

    I just got a new puppy, and I want to make sure he gets his shots as soon as he can. The problem is is that I’m not sure when that time is supposed to be. That being the case, I really appreciate you giving me some insight about vaccinations, and letting me know when the right time to take my puppy in to get them would be. I’ll be sure to wait a little bit, and then take him in. Thanks a ton for all your help.

  • Correy Smith

    When it comes to vaccinating a pet, what type of vaccination would they need to have? I know that rabies shot is something important for them to have but I wonder what else. Since my brother just gave me his chihuahua, my wife has been looking at what vaccinations a chihuahua would need.

    • Joanna Paul

      Hi Correy,
      It really depends on where you live and the lifestyle of your dog. A chihuahua will need the same vaccines as any other dog though. If you have just adopted the chihuahua I would recommend a visit to your local vet for a chat about all of its needs, including vaccines.

  • bryan flake

    As a new pet owner, I wasn’t even aware of any of these misconceptions about pet vaccinations. I will have to ask my vet thorough questions about my beagle’s health care needs. My dog is important to me, but I cannot break the bank for him.

    • Joanna Paul

      Hi Bryan, it’s always good to ask questions! Thanks for visiting.

  • Lisa

    My problem is that our vets disregard the WSAVA advice and want to boost the core vaccines annually, and our pet insurance policy requires annual revaccination. How can vets be allowed to flout the vaccine manufacturer’s instructions. It is incredibly frustrating being a pet owner when faced with so called professionals who seem to put profit before animal welfare.

    • Joanna Paul

      It’s really interesting (and puzzling!) to hear that annual vaccination is required by the insurance company you’re with. Thanks for raising this, I’ll have to double check the commonly used ones locally, but it’s something I’ve never come across.

  • Dani Hunt

    Oh god, the original article made my blood boil. A friend of mine is an overnight assistant for the PDSA, and she has seen a number of Parvo puppies in the past year. Not a pleasant sight, from what she’s described! Private dog breeding ought to require a license and vaccinations should be made a requirement, not an option.

  • Lewis

    Hi, I am a vet and recently had a 3 month old pup come in that had been vaccinated at 7wks for parvo but did not receive it’s booster vaccinations, this poor little bugger slowly wasted away with bloody diarrhoea and vomiting and was euthanised after three days treatment. It was the most distressing case I have ever dealt with and extremely frustrating knowing that timely vaccination would have avoided the whole thing! These anti-vaccination rants are beyond frustrating and if one dog dies because their owner read that article and decided that their vet just wants to make a quick buck then shame on those who wrote the article. I hope I never have to see another dog suffer as this one did but I know as long as this misinformation is spread I will inevitably have to.

  • mike morfett mrcvs

    Another reply to the vacc debate. Most of us agree that a 3 yearly interval (with exceptions of lepto and rabies) is sufficient, and quite possibly even less often. I used to work for a boss (I am a vet) who switched from annual vacc reminders to triannual vacc reminders with the best of intentions based on the current expert advice. He found that the welfare of his client base decreased SIGNIFICANTLY. Despite offering free annual checks in the “non vacc” years, clients were much less likely to bring their dogs to the vet. Why bother? It seems healthy, the vet is a 20 minute car journey etc etc. Without that “injection motivation”, people just weren’t as interested in coming down. This led to less vet checks, later diagnosis of arthritis, cancer, cataracts, obesity etc. Needless to say he changed back to annual vaccs…

    • Lisa

      I am sorry, but this is unethical. If you feel that annual exams are important, then explain that it’s important. But providing unnecessary treatment (in this case over vaccination) that can result in fatal sarcoma (e.g. in cats) and making clients pay for this unnecessary intervention because you want to make your clients to have an exam every year is just plain immoral. Would you like it if your doctor forced an unnecessary treatment or injection on you just to make you come for your yearly visit? Ultimately, it’s up to the owner to decide if he or she wants to come for a yearly exam, it’s up to you as a vet to explain why it’s important. But over vaccination is wrong, immoral and unethical. As a cat owner (and thankfully I have a vet that doesn’t over vaccinate) I find this paternalistic attitude arrogant. You have zero right to say “we know better, we are going to force you come every, but we will lie to you and say that your pet needs a booster even if it doesn’t, and we don’t care if your cat gets sarcoma because it’ll help us diagnose some disease in more cats early”. You and your practice is the reason people are distrustful of vets.

  • Gillian Shippen

    I used to have an email “subscription” to Dogs Naturally “Magazine” but I too got frustrated by the inaccurate and “click baiting” (I like that term) articles passed of as gospel truth (one particular loathed article was on food and how we in the industry make a fortune out of the diets we promote, Oh and then there was one on how we push surgery as a cure all for everything……!
    I am both a veterinary nurse and own my own small business dedicated to animal behavioural health and have lots of contacts with breeders, trainers and everyday pet owners….so I often get articles from Dog Naturally pop up on my news feed from others and my blood just boils when I read the articles (now I refuse to read them and I also refuse to share them).
    I did once attempt to provide a balanced rebuttal but was summarily dismissed as being out of the ordinary with my views on supporting vets. I get so tired of the vet bashing articles and yet when we attempt to defend ourselves we are shouted down……………I would be interested in the views of these people if they were the same when it came to other general matters such as race, politics etc!
    Back on the vaccinations … I always find it interesting when every summer the regular Parvo outbreak occurs and all the phone calls from those that don’t do regular vaccinations ring up in a panic to ensure their dog is covered.

  • Judy

    Good work Dr Jo – I’m sharing this one as much as possible via Vetanswers. It’s also a great example as to why we can never have too many Vets blogging and sharing scientifically based information. After all – if I have a good relationship (online & face-to-face) with my vet it helps me to understand why he/she makes the recommendations that they do. It also means I have a good source of reputable information coming from them so I don’t need to find it from Dr Dodgy online. And if I do come across some information from Dr Dodgy this good relationship means I can say “Hey just found this – what do you think?”. So to all the vets and vet nurses out there…. keep blogging & spreading the good stuff 🙂

  • Heather Johnson

    I love this post! We vaccinate all our pets fully!

  • Laura

    you sound as infuriated as my niece, a nurse, sounds when she is talking about the anti-vax movement for children. I only hope more people hear both of you to protect our kids (human and furry). Keep up the good fight doc!

  • Jodi J

    I read your article and noticed that there was not one mention of titre testing. Just wondering why this option, as opposed to vaccinating was omitted? I am not anti vaccine, however, as a human have had negative reactions to vaccines. Also, one of my dogs did end up quite I’ll following a vaccine. It may have been coincidence, I’m not sure. But with the help of a DM writer and a change of his diet he is healthy as can be! I also have 3 dogs, and only one is vaccinated for kennel cough as he attends daycare and it is required. The only one vaccinated for kennel cough is the only one of my dogs who had ever had it. He got it about 4 months after intranasaly getting the vaccine, and was around my other 2 dogs the whole time he was coughing, yet they never caught it, despite being unvaccinated. I think was DM does is make ppl think, much like your article has done. It gets conversations going and has ppl asking vets more questions. My big question for you remains, however, in an article focusing on the importance of vaccinating why no talk of titer testing? A lot of people do not know about it so educating them on alternatives may be beneficial for ppl who are hesitant to vaccinate. And it still involves regular vet check ups to ensure optimum pet health.

    • Joanna Paul

      Hi Jodi,
      great question. I did mention titer testing briefly:

      “It is actually the virus-neutralising antibodies that are most important. This means there is a good correlation between antibody levels and protection against disease, and is why antibody titers can be a useful indicator of level of protection.”

      You are right, I should have given it more attention as it is an important topic. I was focusing on addressing the things in the other article I found most concerning and got to a stage where I thought it was going to turn into information overload.
      I believe titer testing for dogs will become more commonplace over time. I also believe people should not be stating opinion as fact. The writer of the original article has since said “The entire article is an opinion piece and that should be obvious to anybody”

      True.

  • Nichole

    As a reg vet tech I do agree with a lot of what was mentioned in your blog however vaccines aren’t the greatest thing either.
    I have asked this question many times but no one seems to have an answer for me and since you have a degree in immunology maybe you can help me out. Why is it we have seemed to figure out immunity in humans but we can’t figure it out in our animals. I don’t have to get yearly boosters (heck I don’t get them every 3 years and my pre-exposure rabies that I got 15 years ago I still have very high titer levels) so why should dogs and cats? Even worse why must horses get them every 6 months?
    As for animal vaccines my biggest concern is that they are given to animals who aren’t healthy as per the manufacturers label. A cat or dog with IBD IS NOT healthy. A pet with allergies IS NOT healthy. Diabetics, history of seizures, etc. these are not healthy pets yet for some reason we still want to vaccinate them. I had a CH kitty and every time she got a FVRCP she would end up with a URI. Now I know not all vaccines are 100% but I can tell you that 100% of the URIs were shortly after vaccination. Stopped vaccinating and never had another URI.

    • Joanna Paul

      Hi Nichole,
      what a great point about healthy pets! I certainly don’t think we should vaccinate animals who’s systems are under stress for whatever reason. This is why, in Australia, every animal must have an veterinary examination to be vaccinated, though I have heard in some places overseas this is not regulated.
      As for your question about immunity being figured out, I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers. The only explanation I can see is that much more research has been done over the years for human patients than our furry ones. I know that’s not very helpful! I am comfortable at this stage that it’s in the best interests of my patients to follow WSAVA guidelines. Every single animal is an individual who needs to be treated as such, and while there are circumstances where it is better to not vaccinate than to vaccinate, we don’t want to go back to the days where there were outbreaks of diseases we are now perfectly capable of preventing.

  • Monica Wilson

    Interesting read. You sound very defensive and angry, which is not a good combo when you’re trying to sound authoritative. Yes, it’s true that DNM tends to have over-the-top article titles, but that’s the Modus Operandi. Also, have you ever heard of Dr. Jean Dodds, Dr. Karen Becker or Dr. Richard Pitcairn to name a few? If not you should Google them and the groundbreaking work they’ve been doing over the years.

  • Connie

    As a consumer, I take what I read on both sides of the isle and know that the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

    I know that my vet recommends vaccines far more often than the AAFP recommends, and I’m not happy with that. I know that the AAFP recommends vaccines more often than the challenge science recommends.. and I’m not happy about that. I also know that I have no idea if my cats actually have immunity to disease regardless of their vaccine status, and I’m not happy with that either. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a test for such things that could prove immunity.

    I do my own research because for far too long I listened with out questioning to my vet regarding my pet’s care. I was told to feed foods that are way too high in plant based ingredients for optimal health for an obligate carnivore. I was told wet food and dry food were exactly the same but you were paying for water. I was told to feed foods higher in plant based ingredients and when the food I was feeding caused my cat to become diabetic and need insulin, I was told to blindly inject insulin into my cat with out testing – and 7 units BID at that. I was told that convenia is convenient and I should be happy that it is an option – despite the risks in fact when I discussed the risks with several vets they all claimed to know nothing about it despite scores of cats dying on it. I was told my cat who had urinary crystals but no infection needed antibiotics. No one ever discussed VAS with me until it happened to my cat.

    DN is not the only one questioning the ingredients in food. There are a lot of home health bloggers who are talking about aflatoxins in grain based foods and peanut butter and with good reason. ansci.cornell.edu/plants/toxicagents/aflatoxin/aflatoxin.html Am I going to stop eating peanut butter because of it, no.. but I might think twice about buying the cheap no-name brand. and I am certainly going to think twice about what I feed my foster kittens – because testing has proven that pet food makers aren’t always being truthful with what they put in their food. sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713514004666

    There are a lot of things we blindly do because they are the way we have always done them, and not questioned if they are really necessary. Too many corporations take advantage of that and make changes so small that we do not notice them until you are now eating a ‘dairy desert’ and not ice cream.. or your half gallon is now a pint..

    So yes, maybe DN is clickbating, and yes, ‘facts’ with out backing is infuriating, but if it gets people to ask the questions, if it gets people to have a discussion, and it gets vets who do annual vaccines to get on board with the new protocols, and gets people to donate to the rabieschallengefund.org then I’m going to give them a pass. (not that you shouldn’t call them out because I’m all for the discussion.. )

    • Joanna Paul

      Thanks so much for the considered reply Connie. I’m constantly in awe of the wonderful work you do with your fosters.
      You’re absolutely right about the truth usually being somewhere in the middle. Extreme views are rarely helpful or accurate.
      Cats are another kettle of fish though, aren’t they. As I’m sure you know, antibody titers are not as predictive for them because virus-neutralizing antibodies aren’t as important as cell-mediated immunity, especially for feline herpes virus. This makes decision making for individual cases more tricky.

  • Nicole

    So, if you are titer testing and showing enough immunity after a complete round of puppy vx, and the first 1yr shot, what is the rationale to continue vaccinating? And perhaps not the case in Australia, but here in the US there has been a large multi-million dollar deal struck between AVMA, Fort Dodge, Merial and Hills to “increase routine visits”… it’s suspect to say the least…thoughts?

    • Joanna Paul

      Hi Nicole,
      Thanks for taking the time to respond. I don’t know anything about deals, but I do think getting pets in for their routine visits is important in terms of preventative care. Them visiting a vet for an exam once a year is more or less like us getting a checkup every 7 odd years (I know it depends on the breed but you get my point). I’m not saying we need to jab them with a needle, but routine examinations pick up a lot of things, such as lumps, heart murmurs, arthritis, dental disease…
      If you are titer testing and showing adequate antibodies to parvo, distemper and hepatitis, then I absolutely would not vaccinate for these. I’ve been in touch with experts in this area and their opinion is that, for these three diseases, antibody levels are strongly predictive of protective immunity. Titer testing is not commonly practiced in Australia because the titer tests are currently too expensive. I can’t comment on rabies as I don’t deal with it. I hope that helps 🙂

  • Lara Elizabeth

    I’m so frustrated by DN Magazine and their frequent panic-inducing articles. Other recent topics have been: cooked meat is killing your dog, peas are killing your dog and peanut butter is killing your dog. I think we are all just slowly killing our dogs with every well-meaning decision we make! Thank you for being the voice of reason with the vaccine controversy. I tend to be conservative with my vaccine choices, but would never skip them entirely.

    • They are clearly going for sensational articles as click bait instead of caring an iota about the false information they may be spreading 🙁

      • Joanna Paul

        I think so Jessica. I don’t think they understand that the way it’s delivered could be sending the wrong message to a lot of people. Putting the individual points aside, the overall feeling you walk away with is “don’t trust your vet” “Vaccines are bad”

        • Dana Scott

          Joanna, when over half of all vets vaccinate more often than their association guidelines, what exactly makes you think we should sing their praises? They turn a blind eye to any credible research done in this field, and pat themselves on the back for vaccinating triennially when there is abundant evidence that the core vaccines provide at least 7 years DOI (and this is begrudgingly recognized by the AAHA and AVMA). Then they beg out of titer testing, stating that it’s too expensive when Vaccicheck and other accurate in-house tests are readily available at a low price. And in the meantime, half of adult dogs get cancer – HALF! This is an epidemic that is catastrophically more dangerous than infectious diseases. At what point are vets going to step back and take a long hard look at what is happening to our companion animals and realize that they might be playing a role in the rise in preventable, chronic disease? If pet owners are walking away questioning vets and vaccines, then Good! I’ve done my job. Because the alternative is to blindly follow the advice of vets who are also blind to the rheams of research showing long lasting and likely lifetime immunity. There’s an old Indian proverb I’m quite fond of: “You can’t awaken a person who is pretending to sleep.”

    • Joanna Paul

      Hey Lara, thanks so much for commenting, I adore your cheeky little ginger sisters 🙂
      I think everyone has a right to their own choices regarding vaccination, as long as they are making educated choices. I also think being conservative is an excellent idea. I just found it so sensationalized and fear-mongering.

  • Dana Scott

    Let’s get to the meat of the matter here. First of all, Dogs Naturally Magazine has partnered with the AVH and the magazine is written and endorsed by the leading holistic vets in the world, including Marty Goldstein, Karen Becker, Richard Pitcairn, Barbara Royal (the president of the AHVMA) so we can’t be too far off the mark. And I have plenty of content from all of them to back the claims in this article, as well as peer reviewed research (and I’ll be happy to provide it if you email me).

    Now, before you pat yourself on the back for this rebuttal, I think it’s important to point out a pretty large mistake and that’s actually the basis for my article. You state:

    “By all means, please point me in the direction of the peer reviewed study you read proving this ‘fact’. Oh wait, the study you refer to again and again and again ad nauseam (Schultz, 1999) says immunity to core vaccines is three years for rabies and seven years for others.”

    Are you really so blind to the rheams of research Dr Schultz has done? In fact, he has shown a DOI of a minimum 7 years for parvovirus and adenovirus and 15 years for distemper. Don’t be so lazy as to assume that the AAHA guidelines depict Dr Schultz’s work adequately because the three year schedule was a completely arbitrary number (you only need to ask Dr Richard Ford who was on that task force). Again, if you would like for me to enlighten you on the most recent research showing this extended DOI, email me privately … or just google it because there are a lot of folks who know this. And the reason I quote Dr Schultz so often? Because he and a couple of other vets are the only ones who care enough to actually test how long those vaccines last.

    As for my qualifications as the author of that article – don’t assume what you don’t know. Do you think that the editor of the fastest growing pet magazine on the planet just sits around dreaming this up? Let me tell you something … I am in constant communication with these amazing vets on this topic and I dedicate my life – and my six years of university education – to protecting pets from over-servicing from vets. So here’s a news flash – I love vets. I work with them every day to publish this magazine and our conferences and I’m indebted to them and consider many of them friends. But yes, I do vilify vets who ignore science and vaccinate on completely arbitrary and dangerous schedules.

    Now, on one hand, you state that the parvo vaccine is so effective that it can protect puppies at 6 weeks of age – so then why revaccinate those puppies every three weeks afterward? Wouldn’t you be doing pet owners a service by offering a titer test so you know whether any future vaccines are actually needed? Wouldn’t THAT be more scientific? And while we’re at it, did you know that the distemper vaccine is so effective, you can vaccinate a puppy a day after exposure and he’ll be protected? And this vaccine has been proven – on thousands of dogs and with every major vaccine – to protect animals for a minimum of 7 to 15 years (this reflects the duration of the studies, not the actual DOI) in nearly 100% of dogs. Yet you choose to vaccinate several times in puppies and every three years in adults without ANY SCIENTIFIC precedent to do so. There has never been one peer reviewed study showing the necessity of “boosting” a dog who has already seroconverted. If there is, please enlighten me.

    I’ll end this with a quote from Dr Schultz:
    “Unfortunately not enough folks teaching immunology explain the process so students understand the complexities of vaccine-induced immunity, and there are significant differences between the mechanism of protective immunity to the same pathogen in a naïve vs. a vaccinated animal. I, in academia, accept some of the blame for the confusion, but I also place some of the blame on my colleagues in industry, especially those who market vaccines. They have done a much better job of educating practitioners to their way of selling vaccines than immunologists have done in teaching the facts about vaccine-induced immunity.”

    You’re complete lack of understanding of the DOI for core vaccines is evidence that Dr Schultz is indeed right. I hope you publish this – but our website enjoys a million caring pet owners a month and they’ll be happy to see that you merely prove my point that vets need to be much more up to date on vaccinology and immunology.

    PS: Nowhere in the article does it state not to vaccinate … it merely urges pet owners to vaccinate according to science, not speculation.

    I also find it laughable that you think unvaccinated dogs are spreading parvo. From Decaro et al, Long-term viremia and fecal shedding in pups after modified-live canine parvovirus vaccination:

    “By using real-time PCR, vaccine-induced viremia and shedding were found to be long lasting for both vaccinal strains. Vaccinal CPV-2b shedding was detected for a shorter period than CPV-2 (12 against 19 mean days) but with greater viral loads, whereas viremia occurred for a longer period (22 against 19 mean days).”

    Think of all those vaccinated dogs (most of which are vaccinated many times more than they need to be), shedding parvovirus with 100% certainty, every year to three years. Unprotected dogs will only shed parvovirus if they are infected.

    • Joanna Paul

      Hi Dana,
      thank you for taking the time to come by and provide such a comprehensive response.
      I will respond with a direct quote from you in regards to your original article.

      ” I can write boring, academically correct articles that nobody can read, or I can stir people up into taking immediate action (and that’s the route I choose, without apology). “

  • Belinda Parsons

    Well done Dr Jo! Love it. From one vet to another thank you for setting the record straight. Sharing it far and wide – lets spread the right information, like they are spreading parvovirus… idiots!

    • Joanna Paul

      Thanks for your support Belinda! It means a lot when a holistic, acupuncture-practicing, and overall awesome vet agrees with your point of view on such a thing 🙂

  • Julie

    This is phenomenal. I shared it in hopes that people will wake the hell up and start trusting in veterinary staff. When did we become the enemy, anyway?? I, for one, didn’t go into mass debt to learn how to deceive owners and kill pets. Idiots.

    • Joanna Paul

      Thanks so much Julie!
      I’m just so glad the vast majority of pet owners are sensible about this stuff.

    • James Crowley

      I love this Jo. Keep flying the flag for the good guys. Keep up the good work 🙂

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